home - thanks and good bye Veterinaries in the near region:  


Hasan Ulas Gökduman,
Gökova  0533 475 27 71

Göksel Bayramlı,
Gökova 246 6629

(by Jane Patterson)

Time: 1600 hrs Monday,14th July 2008                          
Place:  Göktur Sitesi, AKYAKA 

Four people are outside on the grass beside my German neighbour’s garden.

 ‘Can you come and look at something?’  I join them and there in the passion fruit creeper is a half metre reptile .   (Have they asked me because I lived in Africa so many years I ask myself) … it’s certainly wildlife but WHAT IS IT?

 ‘It was eating my hibiscus plant …,’ Doris, a very keen gardener tells me.

 ‘Is it a chameleon?’ asks my upstairs neighbour Ali.  (This is much bigger and chameleons don’t have little sharp spine needles running down their backs – nor do they have a sort of leathery beard that seems to expand …. Is it some sort of monitor lizard? I muse)

 ‘I know who to ask’ I say brightly … and phone Heike on my cep.  She asks if it looks like some sort of dinosaur …. Mmm … maybe – but not quite….

 ‘I’m coming,’ she says and 5 minutes later she and Thomas arrive – now we should get some answers.

 We all agree it isn’t a native of Turkey so we open up Google on the computer and after 5 minutes we discover it’s a small Iguana (Leguan in German) and we have established that it is a herbivore and unlikely to BITE and that its only method of defence is lashing with its tail. (I’ve shut my cat indoors while we establish these facts – Cleo is well known for her audacity and curiosity) Also Iguanas can grow to 2.5 m but in captivity not more than 1.5.

 Heike has already fallen in love with it and Thomas is looking doubtful thinking of the menagerie at home!

 Thomas then tells us that Iguanas are kept as pets and maybe someone visiting Akyaka on holiday has decided it’s too big now to take home and has ‘dumped it’.  His reasoning is sound because every year a certain number of pets come on holiday here from Izmir or Istanbul or Ankara and seeing so many well cared for street dogs in our village, the pet is not a passenger on their return journey at the end of the holiday.

 Could Thomas be right – has someone dumped it – is this Akyaka’s FIRST STREET REPTILE? A large tortoise is enjoying the grass around us – hmmm has that been dumped too?

 The upstairs neighbours have gone now but ‘Doggy Yasemin’ is on her way after another cep call – she’ll have some ideas. 

 Just before she arrives we try to look more closely into the creeper where it is hiding and some sudden movement makes it change course and scuttle up into the palm tree – at some considerable speed we note, thinking of future attempts to catch it.

 For the next half hour we mull over the options …

1                 Heike can take it home ….
                 We can find a more suitable habitat
                 The Belediye can make an announcement and someone might claim it …

 Only option 2 is practical and we all agree that leaving it in a ‘site’ in holiday time is not a good idea.  Last year another neighbour’s grandchildren found a harmless little snake and within days the bahçıvan had been told to put down poison and the only ‘victim’ was a very large tabby cat who had bled through its skin upon dying and ended up on my balcony as a bloody mess ….  A new habitat is the answer.

 Finally Yasemin phones Hasan the vet in Kozlukuyu and within 10 minutes he arrives in his green uniform with Salda in her spotless white uniform.  Our Iguana friend is now ‘sunbathing’ on a huge palm leaf looking very much at home on its ‘sunlounger’! 

 We try to decide how to get hold of it and also find something suitable to put it in.  Our reptile friend has got wind of our actions and somehow falls out of the palm tree and into a lemon tree below. The first bag we have isn’t big enough and it makes a rapid escape through the smallest of holes.  It takes up residence on Doris’ balcony. Yasemin rushes off to find a cat cage …. Hasan has come up with the plan to call his friend who has collected a few unusual animals and might be just the person to accept this fascinating reptile. Thomas finds a gübre* bag and Heike and Hasan start again. The Iguana’s lashing tail goes into action as Heike grasps it (but it’s not big enough to hurt fortunately) and we then see that it has lost one of its front legs but this has clearly been done by a surgeon so it MUST have (or had) an owner ….

 We all set off along the path towards the road. Hasan is holding the gübre bag with one hand and talking to his friend, who might take it for us, on his mobile. He’s explaining that he has an Iguana etc etc …… and at this point yet another neighbour comes into our tale.


A young man who, throughout the time we have been engaged in our reptile pursuit, has been cleaning and working on his wind-surfing sails which are all laid out in the shade at the back of the buildings. He is a new-comer to our ‘site’ so we have never spoken before. He looks up from his work and sees our small party of Akyaka Hayvan Sevenler* (3.5 Germans, I British and 2.5 Turks) and has heard what Hasan is saying …


‘Wait a minute – have you found an Iguana …. It may be mine,’ he calls out.


Everyone stops in their tracks. Hasan and Thomas  are clearly cautious – they know the Iguana is quite valuable and has this young man been watching and listening?  Further evidence of ownership is required!


Thinking quickly Thomas asks, ‘How many legs has your Iguana got?’


‘Three,’ Serdar Bey replies and we all look at each other in astonishment and burst out laughing.  For about one and a half hours we have been debating the why’s and where fore's and how to protect our new found prize, and all along its owner was but 20 metres away working on his wind-surfing sails!


Serdar tells us that usually the Iguana lives on the upstairs balconies and in the house (does the landlord know?) and has never before ventured out! 


So everyone goes home and Heike is heartbroken, Thomas relieved and I’m wondering whether I shall see my scaly neighbour again sunning himself on the palm leaves?

Thomas was right – the Iguana DID have an owner after all!